Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday threatened to play in Lok Sabha an audio tape that claimed former Defence Minister and now Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has the Rafale files with him. Rahul Gandhi, however, aborted the idea after a strong protest from the treasury benches and insistence from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to authenticate the tapes.
Rahul Gandhi then threatened to read the transcript of the tapes when the House was adjourned for a few minutes following intense protest from treasury benches.
On Wednesday Rahul Gandhi opened the debate on the controversial Rafale deal in Lok Sabha by accusing the government of corruption and mentioning the purported audio tape as the latest evidence to prove that all was not well in the deal.
“Who changed the requirement of the Air Force from 126 to 36? Why is it that not a single aircraft has landed in India to date? Why did the price go from 526 crore to 1600 crore,” Rahul Gandhi said while leading the attack on the government.
“There are three pillars of Rafale deal. First pillar is process, second is pricing and the third and most interesting is patronage. Senior officers of the IAF chose Rafale after long negotiations, IAF wanted 126 aircraft, why was the demand changed to 36?…Prime Minister in an interview said that no one is accusing him personally on Rafale. Entire nation is asking a direct question to the PM,” Rahul Gandhi said.
He further added that the contract was snatched from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and given to Anil Ambani. When objected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan not to take Anil Ambani’s name since he is not a member of the House, Rahul then questioned if he was a member of the BJP.
The Congress president, who was in a combative mood, then said: “Ok I will call him AA” referred to businessman Anil Ambani.
“The biggest defence deal happened in France. (Narendra) Modiji got it done… In this tape Goa CM and ex Defence Minister in a cabinet meeting said that `I have Rafale files in my house’ and the entire truth about it has been authenticated by a cabinet minister of Government of Goa. Initially, we thought dal mein kala hai (there is something wrong). Pricing ki baat nikli, Anil Ambani ki baat nikli, procedure ki baat nikli pata chal dal mein kala nahi, poori daal hi kali hai. (when issue of pricing, Anil Ambani and procedure was seen it became clear that not something but everything is wrong),” Rahul Gandhi said.
While demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) inquiry in the matter, Rahul Gandhi asked BJP not to fear to face a JPC and things will be clear after that. “It will be clear Modiji nay AA ke jeb mein paise dale, pooray procedure to bypass kiya, HAL ke worker se chheen kar France ke worker ko diya gaya (It will be clear Modiji filed AA’s pockets, bypassed the entire procedure, took away employment from HAL workers and gave to French). Let the truth come before the people,” Rahul Gandhi added.
The Congress leader also tried to clear air on the Supreme Court order in the Rafale deal case, saying that the top court verdict stated that probing Rafale scam does not come under the jurisdiction of it, but the Court never said that JPC should not be formed.
He even quoted a file noting reported by a section of media that Prime Minister should not interfere in the Rafale deal.
Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview to ANI on Tuesday in which the PM had said that the accusations with regard to Rafale deal is not aimed personally at him, Rahul Gandhi said: “Prime Minister appeared ruffled and had said that no one is pointing finger on him, I will say the entire nation is pointing finger at him.”